Archive for March 5th, 2014

March 5, 2014

We’re building a house! Part I

by Gillian

Every summer my family spends a lot of time at my parent’s weekend place (which we call the farm). My brother and his wife come too and now that they have new baby we were simply running out of space for everyone. The house is from the late 1880’s so our initial thought to build up and make the attic a usable 2 bedroom and bathroom space wouldn’t work because the house structurally wouldn’t hold up. Fortunately, we have a lot of property so we decided to build a new house where an old existing barn garage and corn crib had been. We were just kind of throwing ideas out there and we weren’t going to start any construction until Fall 2104 but our builder told us he was suddenly available this winter and would be able to build us a house by June 1, 2014 so we jumped on the chance. It’s been a very crazy few months first trying to figure out what we wanted the space to look like – modern, barn-like, more traditional? Then trying to find an architect to draw up plans and get all our permits etc within a matter of weeks so that we could demo the old structures, break ground and pour concrete before mid November when the ground typically freezes. And then get the house framed and wrapped before the wrath of winter. Also, I should mention that the farm is 2 hours away from Manhattan so it’s been tough to make regular site visits and the majority of communication has been via phone and email with the builder and not face to face. Additionally, I would like to add that once you leave a big city everything moves at a snail’s pace. Nobody has any sense of urgency about anything and it can take days or weeks even to get an email reply. It’s not how I’m used to working and has been a very good test of my patience so far.

Ultimately, we decided to build a modern barn home to fit in with the existing old main house on one side of the site and an existing old barn structure that used to hold livestock. The most important feature of the whole new house is the view. We really wanted to take advantage of just how stunning it is. I am really looking forward to waking up to this:


In September this is what the site looked like – barn garage on the left and corn crib on the right (you can see the roof of the old barn in the background which is staying). You also may notice my dad’s baby – his 1967 Cutlass convertible which he calls “the ghost”. I’ll get back to “the ghost” when I fill you in on the interior plans.


In early October here’s what it looked like: old structures were demolished leaving the footprint for the new house.


Then while it was relatively still warm, the concrete foundation was poured:

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By the end of November the framing was up. And we already had the first of many snowstorms:


By Christmas the entire house was framed and they were putting on the roof. This was the first time I was seeing it in person and not just from photos and it felt so much smaller in person than it did on the floorplans.  During our walk through we noticed some things that we needed to tweak and some things that we wished we could but ultimately could not change. This is one of the main disadvantages of not being able to have regular site visits.

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This is the view standing in my new living room:

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In January the windows were in and the house was wrapped up for protection from this brutal winter we are having. Here’s the view from the main road looking at the front of the house:

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When I saw it in February they had started putting on the board and batten on the sides of the house.

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My next visit up to see the house is in a few weeks. I am expecting to see the electrical & plumbing complete, as well as the all the sheet rock which is going to totally make this shell feel like a real space. Stay tuned for more posts to see how the house is progressing along with my interior plans for this modern industrial chic barn house!